SYDNEY - Sam Soliman is certain he will get a mandatory crack at fellow Australian Daniel Geale's IBF middleweight boxing title after producing the "Rocky Balboa" performance of his career to beat Felix Sturm in Germany.
Soliman, 39 (43-11, 17 KOs), overcame a second-round knockdown in Dusseldorf to earn a unanimous 12-round points win in an eliminator for the No.1 ranking on Saturday.
While Sturm (37-4, 2, 16 KOs) might have been four points ahead after the first three rounds, he was comprehensively outworked for the remainder of the fight.
Two judges scored it 114-113 to Soliman and their colleague had it 116-111 in the Australian's favour.
Ring announcer Michael Buffer initially appeared to declare Sturm the winner before hurriedly reversing the result.
It was an eighth straight win for Soliman, who was the No.1 contender going into the fight and it confirmed his status as mandatory challenger to Geale, who retained his title on Wednesday with a points win over fellow Australian Anthony Mundine.
Geale's promoter Gary Shaw earlier in the week indicated he might petition the IBF to have a voluntary defence next, rather than fight the winner of Soliman-Sturm.